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Outside » Outside Features

A Thanksgiving Miracle! American Ninja Warrior vs. every other sport in the world

American Ninja Warrior is probably the greatest sport ever.

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I gave thanks for many a sports blessing this past week, including the continuing mediocrity of the Miami Heat and the shanked Boise State field goals that once again made the world safe for big-money college football programs, but that's not what I'm most thankful for this year. Rather, I'm most thankful that there is something called American Ninja Warrior and that this is an actual televised athletic competition, not just the desired profession of second-grade boys everywhere.

Sure, I watched the Lions and the Cowboys get beat, as is scheduled to occur by way of congressional mandate each Thanksgiving day, and took in some college hoops and Auburn's clumsy win, but it was the fact that I became aware of American Ninja Warrior that highlighted my weekend.

What could be better than watching everyday Americans hop over water, swing on a rope over water or jump between walls over water? And did I mention that about 95 percent of these people fall into the water and get totally wet, not to mention totally disqualified? They also climb up seemingly unclimbable walls. Aside from realizing that the NFL must immediately install water hazards in order to compete for my attention, I also decided that the athletes on American Ninja Warrior are far superior to, say, Shaquille O'Neal, or every single offensive lineman ever or, I dunno, Matt Hasselbeck (or any Hasselbeck for that matter).

American Ninja Warrior, which returns to the air with new episodes on December 8 on a network called G4, is based, of course, on a Japanese program of a similar name, but has since been Americanized because Americans suddenly want to be ninjas. As they should, because ninjas are probably the best athletes ever, kind of like Blake Griffin, whose recent dunks have been particularly ninjastic. This is why athletes (and plenty of people for whom the label "athlete" is more of a stretch than the one being experienced by the elastic in their sweat pants) are lining up in what appears to be a Home Depot parking lot in the hopes of making it at least through the first round. Then, they head off to a "boot camp" where one of them, in accordance with reality-show guidelines, will probably become a villain and another a psychologically troubled loner who cries in every episode.

Unlike the NBA playoffs, a mere 10 of the 1,000 or so initial American Ninja Warrior entrants head to the final round where they'll be sent to Japan's Mount Midoriyama, the most groin-bustingly, knuckle-breakingly, rope-burningly difficult obstacle course in the world. Uh yeah, this is awesome.

If you need me, I'll be out back working on my jump kicks.

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